Two goals in either half paced Sporting Kansas City to a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Minnesota United FC in Wednesday’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fourth-round clash at Children’s Mercy Park.
Ike Opara and Gerso scored on the cusp of intermission before Dom Dwyer and Daniel Salloi struck late to send Sporting Kansas City into the Round of 16 at the expense of a Minnesota United FC side that suffered its second defeat at Children’s Mercy Park in as many weeks.
Dwyer became Sporting Kansas City’s all-time leading U.S. Open Cup scorer with his sixth career goal in the tournament after 72 minutes, while Homegrown striker Salloi marked his maiden start for the club with the game’s final tally on 83 minutes. Minnesota United FC was condemned to its third Open Cup defeat to Sporting Kansas City over the last four seasons, having previously suffered fourth-round losses to Manager Peter Vermes’ men in 2014 and 2016.
Sporting Kansas City will continue its pursuit of a fourth U.S. Open Cup title on June 27 or 28, with the Round of 16 and Quarterfinal draw taking place tomorrow at 10 a.m. CT to determine opponent, date and location. If Sporting Kansas City is awarded the right to host, the match will be included in Season Ticket Member packages as Game B and single-game tickets will go on sale to the general public tomorrow afternoon.
With his team welcoming Minnesota United FC for the second time in 12 days, Vermes fielded a formidable lineup on Wednesday that reflected the club’s esteem and admiration for the Open Cup. U.S. international defenders Matt Besler and Graham Zusi returned from World Cup qualifying duty to join the backline alongside Opara and Seth Sinovic, while goalkeeper Tim Melia and midfielders Ilie and Roger Espinoza — who made his 200th Sporting KC appearance in all competitions — retained their respective starting spots. Jimmy Medranda dropped into the center of the park in place of Benny Feilhaber, leaving Salloi to join Gerso and Dwyer up top.
A lethargic start from both sides saw neither keeper tested until the 20-minute mark, when Minnesota’s Patrick McLain comfortably saved long-range efforts from Zusi and Medranda. The first genuine opportunity fell to the hosts in the 33rd minute, but Dwyer rifled narrowly wide from 20 yards after Gerso did well to set up the Englishman.
A barnstorming end to the first period delivered two goals, the first of which coming in the 43rd minute when Opara steered a powerful header into the back of the net off Zusi’s corner kick. Three minutes later, Salloi’s turf-trimming drive from distance caromed off the left post and was poked home by Gerso, who recorded his team-leading seventh goal across all competitions and his second in as many matches.
The visiting Loons came closest to scoring in the 53rd minute as Collin Martin’s low piledriver pinged off Melia’s righthand post. Wednesday’s result gave Melia his fifth career Open Cup victory for Sporting KC, moving him into sole possession of first place on the club’s all-time charts.
The match was halted for nearly 10 minutes around the hour-mark when Minnesota defender Joseph Greenspan received treatment for a head injury and was subsequently stretchered off the field. A return to action resulted in Sporting KC’s two-goal lead doubling before the final whistle.
Dwyer ran onto Gerso’s incisive through ball and slotted low past McLain in the 72nd minute, breaking a tie with four former players for first place on Kansas City’s Open Cup goal scoring list, before nearly securing a brace six minutes later. His thunderous free kick was tipped away by McLain, and his header off the ensuing corner kick flashed marginally wide.
Salloi completed the rout with seven minutes left, tucking into the corner from close range to culminate a splendid build-up involving Latif Blessing, Feilhaber and Espinoza. Blessing almost created a fifth in the dying embers, embarking on a mazy run past several defenders before laying off to Salloi whose shot blazed high.
MLS regular season play returns to the forefront Saturday when first-place Sporting Kansas City (7-4-5, 26 points) travels to face the San Jose Earthquakes (5-6-4, 19 points) in a Western Conference showdown at Avaya Stadium. The match will kick off at 8 p.m. CT with three hours of live television coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest.
2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Fourth Round (Round of 32)
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: 86 degrees and mostly sunny
|Sporting Kansas City||2||2||4|
|Minnesota United FC||0||0||0|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ike Opara (Kevin Ellis 88), Matt Besler (C), Seth Sinovic; Roger Espinoza, Ilie, Jimmy Medranda (Benny Feilhaber 74); Gerso (Latif Blessing 78), Dom Dwyer, Daniel Salloi
Subs Not Used: Adrian Zendejas, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Cameron Porter
Minnesota United FC: Patrick McLain; Kevin Venegas, Joseph Greenspan (Marc Burch 67), Brent Kallman (C), Justin Davis, Ismaila Jome (Jerome Thiesson 75); Collen Warner, Collin Martin, Rasmus Schuller (Ibson HT); Abu Danladi, Bashkim Kadrii
Subs Not Used: John Alvbage, Sam Cronin, Miguel Ibarra, Christian Ramirez
|Shots on Goal||8||0|
MIN -- Justin Davis (caution; unsporting behavior) 90
MIN -- Collen Warner (caution; dissent) 94+
SKC -- Ike Opara 1 (Graham Zusi 1) 43
SKC -- Gerso 1 (unassisted) 46+
SKC -- Dom Dwyer 1 (Gerso 1) 72
SKC -- Daniel Salloi 1 (Roger Espinoza 1) 83
Referee: Juan Guzman
Assistant Referee: Kyle Atkins
Assistant Referee: Spenser Scopel
Fourth Official: Elvis Mahmutovic